|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 8, 2013 at 2:35 AM|
We love our bad guys. Let’s totally give them the coolest gadgets, the awesomest one-liners: they rule the story. Don’t deny it. Bad guys are the reason we celebrate fiction. Explosions and tension are their trademark. Good guys, on the other hand, are like the ultimate janitors. They clean up the messes made by others. Rarely are they responsible for the problem, and even then their involvement feels contrived. So let’s live it up for the bad guys. Go evil!
Okay, so my blog post isn’t a blatant declaration of my affiliation to the anarchist movement. Seriously, let’s talk about the antithesis of any story. The bad guy. It’s blatant in our beloved hero mythology, but equally present even in our comedies, our dramas: the antithesis is the driver of the story. No easy way around it: they are the reason the story exists. Even if the hero and the bad guy prove to be the same dude (as in the case of man-verses-self), we still find the antithesis’ hand at work from the stories’ inception.
For instance, would the incident known world round as 9-11 be regarded as a conflict between man-verses-man, man-verses-society, or man-verses-god? If you look at an American account of the incident, you may come to a different conclusion than, say, a story regarding the incident written by the Taliban. I’m trying to illustrate here how our values and world-views influence the interpretive processes of the stories we tell (including history). Obviously, I think the atrocities that occurred on 9-11 were inexcusable. Some data supports the supposition that we built up Al Quida in the 1980s as a way of getting Russian forces out of the Middle East (check out the movie Charlie Wilson’s War for a general idea), and that our interference in foreign affairs resulted in the back-lash we call 9-11. Not to cross nationalistic fervor, but there is a supposition that our Middle Eastern problems stem from our own doings… Would that be society-verses-society?
Off the top of my hat I can think of a few instances in which James Joyce’s, Charles Dickens’ or Emily Bronte’s dynamics don’t conveniently fit within the established literary paradigms. Some would say that the pattern is—at best--tenuous, subtle to those who just don’t get it. Others would maintain that human dynamics, and the struggles we face, are too fluid to fit within the rigid hierarchy of literary categorization. I would argue that it depends on the scale at which one appraises the matter…
The bottom line is, whether the antagonist be a kid with a bean-shooter, a man with a rag-tag army behind him, or a knight with all the righteousness of God on his side, the protagonist is a reactionary character. A thousand heroes on their own can’t create their story, unless there’s some evil to right. And that’s why the bad buys rock. Not because they’re deviant, but because without them there wouldn’t be an opportunity to celebrate the reason for this thing we call ‘Right’.
Of course, that leads us to question the very thing we call ‘Right’. Right?
Categories: film & book